Friday, September 01, 2017

Let's be consistent with our outrage


There have been widespread expressions of outrage at a provocative and tasteless promotional video made by the youth association of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra featuring a young lady in a short skirt, a leaf blower and Bach's music. The half-life of that particular big new idea proved to be very short, and the video has been removed from YouTube (but not Vimeo) to the sound of furious back-pedaling in Amsterdam. However the outrage continues in a sequence of Slipped Disc posts in which Norman Lebrecht describes the video as "insensitive" and "shameless". So let's look at the bigger picture. The Concertgebouw's error of judgement can be explained but not excused by a desperate attempt to boost its audience. For years Norman Lebrecht has used insensitive and shameless material in a desperate attempt to boost his blog's audience. Just three examples from Slipped Disc are shown here, with the one below carrying the same message as the "shameless" Dutch video.


Slipped Disc receives support from the whole classical music industry, including musicians, record labels, orchestras and professional journalists. But a dodgy video from Amsterdam receives widespread condemnation. In his blog Norman Lebrecht quotes Nicholas Daniel as describing the Concertgebouw promotion as "appalling sexist rubbish" and Jessica Duchen as explaining that this kind of stunt is why "why we keep having to fight sexism in all its forms". More power to your crusade Nicholas and Jessica. Now I look forward to you directing your perfectly justified outrage at other purveyors of appalling sexist rubbish in the classical music industry.


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4 comments:

Andrew Morris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Philip Amos said...

From Norman Lebrecht's Wikipedia entry:

Pianist Grigory Sokolov refused to accept the Cremona Music Award 2015 declaring: "According to my ideas about elementary decency, it is shame to be in the same award-winners list with Lebrecht."

So true. So very true. But to an egotist such as NL, water off the proverbial duck's back, as I'm sure also was his crushing defeat in the lawsuit brought against him by Klaus Heymann. All it means is that Sokolov and Heymann won't be getting any nice plugs from him. That's a significant point, for there are just two major aspects of NL and Slipped Disc that should be understood. First, NL was and remains a tabloid journalist at heart. That speaks for itself. Secondly, his 'success' is built upon a vast system of favours given and favours owed. NL gives someone a plug, which results in a request for an interview being granted, or that in reverse order. You can spot this when he refers to musicians by their first name, sometimes shortened, or nickname. He's letting readers know they are friends, though I'm sure 'friends' of the Facebook sort. And it works similarly with corporations. It serves him well. His problem is that tabloid writing is simple and tabloid journalists can write fast, though not well. They also don't care about fact-checking (e.g., the Heymann case) and they can't resist a glib and punny header, hence NL's constant errors, and misleading, often offensive, headers. He knows, of course, that sex sells and can't resist using it to sell SD. But he's a born pontificator, so he also can't resist condemning others who do so. A born hypocrite to boot. It makes me wonder: Lebrecht is certainly lauded publicly by rather a lot of people, but what do they say in private? Anyone who inherited the family brain cell can see through him, so I must suspect it's not very nice.

Pliable said...

Philip, all so true. What shocks me is not that Lebrecht behaves like that, but that he gets away with it and has been getting away with it for years.

The whole industry knows of the Klaus Heymann court case. Yet he is still taken seriously, and, equally mysteriously, still feared. It is not insignificant that my blogs readership stats show a significant audience for this post, but, as I write, you and Andrew Morris were the only ones with the balls to be publicly associated with it. However, it is also possibly not insignificant that Andrew, who as a professional writer has some flesh in the game, has now deleted his supportive comment.

More and more these days I think the classical music industry is getting precisely what it deserves.

Andrew Morris said...

Oh, not scared of NL - you'll see! Just had one of those moments of online regret. What was it I said? Oh yes.

The ad was embarrassing and gutter trawling, though NL's faux-rage reminds me of Stewart Lee's comment about Jeremy Clarkson's "outrageous politically incorrect opinions which he has every week to a deadline in the Sunday Times......almost as if they weren't real."